Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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The Empress Of Tomorrow: Asuka

You simply cannot talk about the greatest wrestlers in the world, regardless of gender, without talking about Asuka. There isn’t anything Asuka hasn’t done previously, and her resume is one of the most spectacular in today’s wrestling world. Winning championships and awards all over Japan as Kana, as well as being a Grand Slam Champion and Triple Crown Champion in the WWE, Asuka has proved that she should be in the conversation of Greatest of All Time.

Asuka made her professional wrestling debut in 2004 for the all-female promotion AtoZb under the ring name Kana. She actually retired in 2006 due to chronic nephritis but made her return to wrestling the following year, working for various promotions around Japan for the next few years. In 2010, she made Pro Wrestling Wave her home base. During this time, Kana also produced her first wrestling event titled Kana Pro and would have a few more Kana Pro shows throughout the years. She also would self-produce shows along with her Triple Tails stable which included Io and Mio Shirai.

Kana won several championships around Japan, competing against some of the greatest ladies and men in the world. She even came to America to work for independent promotions such as the all-women’s promotion Shimmer and Chikara. She competed against Mia Yim, Mercedes Martinez, Cheerleader Melissa, Jessie McKay, and Sara Del Rey while in America.

Becoming The Empress

In 2015, it was announced that Kana had signed a contract with WWE, making her the first female Japanese wrestler signed to the company since Bull Nakano in 1994. She would make her in-ring debut on October 7th, 2015, under the name Asuka at NXT Takeover: Respect in a match against Dana Brooke which Asuka won. Asuka was unbeaten for the remainder of the year, beating ladies like Carmen, Emma, and Dana Brooke. She eventually earned herself a title shot for the NXT Women’s Championship against current champion, Bayley. At NXT Takeover: Dallas on April 1, 2016, Asuka defeated Bayley to win the NXT Women’s Championship. Over the following year and a half, Asuka would defend her championship several times, winning every bout and staying unbeaten.

In August 2017, Asuka injured herself while defending her championship against Ember Moon at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III. She won the match but was forced to relinquish the NXT Women’s Championship the next week at the NXT tapings. She held the record for the longest NXT Women’s Championship reign at 522 days. After returning from injury, Asuka was promoted to the main roster and assigned to Raw. She would have her first match back at TLC against former rival, Emma, in which Asuka was victorious, extending her undefeated streak.

First Rumble Winner

A month later at Survivor Series, Asuka was the sole survivor for Team Raw. In January 2018, WWE had their first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match, where Asuka was victorious after entering at number 25. Asuka decided to challenge Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, at Wrestlemania 34. Charlotte Flair would be victorious after forcing Asuka to submit, ending Asuka’s undefeated streak at an
impressive 914 days.

After losing to Charlotte, Asuka was drafted to Smackdown and had various feuds and championship opportunities. She wouldn’t win the Smackdown Women’s Championship until TLC 2018 when she competed in the first-ever women’s TLC match in a triple threat against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch after interference by Ronda Rousey. Asuka would hold the title for 100 days, losing it to Charlotte in March of 2019.

She would then start teaming with Kairi Sane as the Kabuki Warriors with Paige as their manager. The duo would win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships at Hell in a Cell 2019. In 2020, Asuka won the women’s Money in The Bank Ladder match earning her a shot at either the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Championship. The following night on Raw, Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch announced she was taking time off due to her pregnancy and Asuka didn’t just win the Money in the Bank briefcase, she won the Raw Women’s Championship.

At Summerslam 2020, she would reclaim the Raw Women’s Championship from Sasha Banks, making her a two-time winner. She would lose the championship to Rhea Ripley at Wrestlemania 37. Asuka would, unfortunately, become injured at Money in the Bank 2021 and has been inactive ever since. She is considered a free agent since she wasn’t drafted to Raw or Smackdown at the 2021 draft.

Asuka has to be one of the most decorated women in the history of professional wrestling. She has won many championships in Japan across various promotions. In WWE, she is a one-time NXT Women’s Champion, two times Raw Women’s Champion, one-time Smackdown Women’s Champion, 2 times WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion (along with Kairi Sane and Charlotte Flair), one time Money in the Bank winner, one time Royal Rumble winner, NXT female competitor of the year in 2016 and 2017, NXT overall competitor of the year in 2017, and a WWE end of the year award for Tag Team of the year with Kairi Sane in 2019.

Asuka made her return to Monday Night Raw last month to confront Becky Lynch. So, who’s still ready for Asuka?

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